London Bound This Summer And A Savings Of $2,390 Using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles

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December, 2012, the last time I was in London

 

Posted 7/8/2016

Back in 2014, I accumulated almost 100,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles because I got a Bank Of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard with an offer that yielded about 90,000 miles just from the sign-up bonuses and spending bonuses.  You can still get the same offer today for the card, but it is targeted.  The fee for the card was $95.

I never had any plans for the miles, but figured I would be able to use them one day.  After all, Rob and I have some big birthdays coming up.  However, that day has arrived sooner than I originally anticipated…

My friend is spending a lot of her summer in London and has a place for me to crash.  Being able to get to London for free on miles, and having a place to stay was too appealing for me to pass up.  Also, let’s not forget about Brexit.  Everything is much less expensive in London right now!  West End theater, here I come..

So I started my reward search on the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club website and ultimately used a total of 35,000 Flying Club miles for my roundtrip flight to London.  In addition, I needed to pay $436 in taxes, fees, etc.

Unlike the last time that I flew to London in Business Class, this time, I am in economy class.  I am fine with that!  It is an impromptu trip to London and I am going solo, I am smiling right now as I type this.  :-)

I did another search, this time using dollars, to see the price of the flights.  The price for the flight (inclusive of fees, etc) came in at $2826.  I saved $2,390 (2826-436) using a little more than a 1/3 of my Flying Club balance, a balance that I had for merely getting a credit card, meeting the spend minimum, and paying a $95 fee.  Not to mention, I still have another 65,000 left to play with!

For all of you out there who need to know if you are getting a good value before you decide to use rewards, (I am not one of you), the most recent valuation of a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club mile was 1.5 cents per mile.  Using that figure, I am using miles valued at $525 for a flight that is close to $3,000.  I think that it is a pretty good value!

 

 


Double Your Miles On Virgin Atlantic Flights To London

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Posted 11/14/2015

Register before November 30, and get 100% bonus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles and bonus tier points on a flight to London prior to January 31, 2016.   You get one tier point for Economy, two for Premium Economy and three for Upper Class.

You can take advantage of this bonus up to ten times.  Tickets that are ticketed on a Virgin Atlantic prefix (‘VS’) and operated on Virgin Atlantic or Delta Air Lines will qualify for this offer.

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British Airways Avios Points Got Us To London On British Air Business Class -We saved $12,000!

 

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Posted 9/5/2014

Family trip to London-check. And what a trip it was as we flew ON AVIOS POINTS to London on British Airways Business Class. Wow what an experience!!! Amazing food, seats that turned into beds, an abundance of outlets for charging, a pre boarding lounge with tons of snacks, drinks and dinner and unbelievable service. A once in a lifetime treat for my family and wait-best part…all for free. (Note-except for having to pay the hefty BA fuel tax per ticket-but that is a charge you cannot get around no matter what so I don’t count it.)

So how did I get these five British Airways Business Class tickets that were 80,000 Avios points each? (Avios is the unit of point currency used by British Airways) I got most of them via my Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card.

Back in 2011, I applied for the card and once approved received 50,000 Avios points just for getting the card. Unfortunately, this initial 50,000 Avios bonus is not available today, but who knows—-it may be again, so watch for it. I then made $1,000 in purchases over the next 3 months and received another 50,000 Avios points. This bonus IS currently available if you are approved for the card but you now must make $2,000 in purchases.

So I now found myself with an easy 100,000 Avios Points. I should note however, that this card has a $95 annual fee, but to me, for all of these points, it was worth it!

What next? Well, I made my husband an additional cardmember of my British Airways Visa Signature Card in anticipation of our next move….

You see British Airways offers a Travel Together Ticket. That is, every year that you make purchases of at least $30,000 on your British Airways Visa Signature Card, you earn a Travel Together Ticket that is good for two years. The Travel Together Ticket allows you to add a guest on a reward flight without using any extra Avios Points. You are essentially doubling the value of your Avios Points.

So that is what we did. In both 2011 and 2012, I directed my husband to use his additional British Airways Visa Signature Card for the advertising expenses of his business. Once he reached the $30,000 annual amount, he stopped using the card.

So now what I had was the initial 100,000 Avios Points. and 75,000 Avios Points from the 2 years of purchases (you earn 1.25 Avios per dollar spent with your card-60,000 X 1.25). In addition, I had two Travel Together Tickets from meeting the $30,000 spend requirement in both 2011 and 2012.

Like I indicated above, those British Airways Business Class Tickets were 80,000 Avios points each. So for four tickets, I only needed 160,000 Avios points (because with each 80,000 Avios Point reward, I was able to add another guest to my reward flight). For my fifth ticket, I only had 15,000 Avios Points to apply. Hmmmm what to do???

Well, as it turns out, British Airways is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. Between my husband and myself, we usually have plenty of points there to play with if need be as we both use our American Express cards a lot. Also at the time (back in May of 2012), I took advantage of a 50% transfer bonus from American Express to British Airways. That is to obtain my 65,000 Avios Points needed to get that fifth ticket, I only needed to transfer in about 43,333 American Express Membership Rewards Points. (At the time of this post, there is a 1 to 1 ratio if you transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios——but they may run this 50% transfer bonus offer again…we shall see…..)

So after all of that, I had enough Avios Points for my five British Airways Business Class tickets.   If we would have paid for these 5 tickets, the price would have been about 18K (crazy! in my opinion).  We spent about $6,000 due to the hefty fuel charges and taxes.  (You cannot avoid these charges when booking with miles).  We saved about $12,000!!!!!!

So, we took our trip to London in December 2012 and had a really fun and educational family vacation. Did I mention we stayed for free as well in a GIGANTIC suite at the Park Lane Hotel…a Starwood Resort…Oh how I love Starwood Resorts!!!!!

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Starwood Preferred Guest Points Got Us 9 Free Nights in London and a Savings of $2,800

 

 

 

 

 

Posted 8/20/2015

Not only did we fly British Air Business Class on miles and saved $12,000 on our family trip to London, but we also stayed 9 nights for free on Starpoints!!!!

We stayed at the Park Lane Hotel, a Starwood Resort (SPG Category 7!)   We used 160,000 Starwood points for a junior suite for 9 nights.  During those 9 nights, the 5th night was free. At that time, this junior suite conservatively cost about $350 per night. We saved about $2800!

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The suite was huge!!!!  I mean huge!!!, the biggest room we ever stayed in anywhere.  The hotel and rooms were a little dated (or maybe that is how it is in London), but the hotel was 2 blocks from the subway and a 5 minute walk from Buckingham Palace.  We were in London, we barely spent any time in the room anyway.  Just to sleep!!!!

Note, that originally when I went to book this hotel on points, this junior suite did not come up on the SPG website.  I actually called and got a live person who booked this suite for us.  If you are not happy with what you see on the website, call.  It can make a difference in what you can get.

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We Are Headed To Amsterdam And Paris And We Saved $2,700 On Flights Using Avios Points

 

 

Posted 2/11/2016

I still consider our free family trip to London on British Airways BUSINESS CLASS one of my biggest accomplishments in playing the points and miles travel game.  With a combination of Avios points and two British Airways Travel Together Tickets, we saved about $12,000! on those flights.

The way the Travel Together Ticket works is that every year that you make purchases of at least $30,000 on your British Airways Visa Signature Card, you earn a Travel Together Ticket that is good for two years. The Travel Together Ticket allows you to add a guest on a reward flight without using any extra Avios Points. You are essentially doubling the value of your Avios Points.

In 2016, I made sure that Rob and I once again each spent the requisite $30,000 on our cards because I really wanted to use the travel together tickets in 2018, the year I turn 50, for Wimbledon  However, when we came up with the idea of visiting Amsterdam and Paris next Christmas, I decided to cash them in for that.

Rob and I each used 49,000 Avios from our British Airways Executive Club accounts to secure economy tickets flying into Amsterdam and returning from Paris.   We received an additional 2 tickets using our travel together tickets.  For each set of two tickets, we had to pay a tax of $832, you cannot avoid paying the taxes on British Airways flights.    Unfortunately there were no additional award seats the day that I booked so we purchased an additional ticket at the price of $1097 for our fifth family member.  Unlike our prior trip on British Air, business class tickets came in way too high, we didn’t have the points or the funds for the exorbitant tax.

So how much did we save using our Avios points and travel together tickets.  Well, had we bought 4 tickets we would have paid $4,388 ($1,097 * 4).  We had to pay $1,664 in taxes for the four flights.  So we saved about $2,700 using the points and tickets.

As for us getting back to London in 2018, guess what cards I am going to favor in 2017?  Yup, mine and Rob’s Chase British Airways cards.  I need to now earn those travel together tickets one more time!


Up To 70,000 Bonus Flying Club Miles With The Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard (Targeted)

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Posted 9/11/2016

Rob just got this offer AGAIN via email for the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard credit card from Bank of America.  I took advantage of this same offer some years back.  I actually used some of my miles to travel to London this past summer.

Through September 29, 2016, the offer terms are as follows:

20,000 Flying Club bonus miles after your first purchase

50,000 additional Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $12,000 in qualifying purchases within 6 months of your account open date 

Also, you can earn up to 5,000 Flying Club bonus miles when you add additional authorized users to your card.

In addition  to the 75,000 Flying Club miles above, you can earn an additional 15,000 Flying Club bonus miles.  If you keep the card for a year, you earn 7,500 bonus miles when spend $15,000 in your first year and an additional 7,500 miles when you spend $25,000 in your first year.

The $90 annual fee is not waived with the offer.  There are some attractive features about this card like earning 3 miles per $1 spent directly on Virgin Atlantic purchases and 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases.  Most airlines have a 1 to 1 spend ratio on other purchases.

Also, similar to British Airways Visa Travel Together Ticket (but in my opinion, not as attractive despite the spend threshold of $25K versus $30K),  if you spend at least $25,000 in Net Purchases using your card within a year (beginning on the date you open your account and continuing for every 12 month period thereafter), you will also qualify for an Economy companion reward ticket for half the standard miles of a reward economy seat, maximum one reward companion ticket per year. You must pay flight related taxes, fees and charges relating to the complimentary reward flight.

 


4 Airport Lounges In Nine Days-Thank You Amex Platinum

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Posted 8/14/2016

Thank you to my American Express Business Platinum card for giving me access to four airport lounges in nine days on my FREE trips to Portland and London.

I flew Delta out of JFK and relaxed (quickly) in the Delta Sky Lounge prior to the flight.  We only had a little bit of time, so Rob slummed it by the gate.  However, upon our return from Portland to JFK, we had a lot more time prior to boarding.  We splurged and spent the $29 guest fee and Rob came with me into the Delta lounge.  He was very happy.  :-)

I had access to the Delta lounge and was able to bring a guest, Rob, because my American Express Business Platinum card comes with complimentary airport lounge access to Delta Sky Clubs.  You just need to show your ID and your boarding pass and you are in.

I landed at JFK and was set to leave a mere 2 hours later for my 3 day trip to London to visit a friend.  Remember, I got those flights for free on Virgin Atlantic.  Before that flight, I hung out at the Wingtips Lounge in Terminal 4.  This lounge needs a face lift, IMO, but it was still better than hanging at the gate.

At Heathrow, I chilled at the No1 Lounge before my flight back to New York.  At this lounge, you can get a hot made to order breakfast!

I was able to access both Wingtips and No1 Lounge for free because my American Express Business Platinum card allows me to enroll in Priority Pass Select at no additional cost. This program gives me access to numerous airport lounges that are part of the Priority Pass Select Program, both lounges being part of the program.

I love my Amex Platinum!

 

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Let Your Back To School Shopping Help You Snag An Annual Spend Bonus!

1240254_10151843789853501_1216617990_nAs much as I hate to admit it, the summer is coming to a close and September is almost upon us.  I bet if you have kids, whether from pre-school age through college, there is a little (or a big) bump in your expenses during the late summer or early fall.  Most of these costs relate to heading back to school and resuming normally scheduled activities.

For our children, many of us will be shopping for items such as: school clothes, bigger sneakers, school supplies, and maybe some big ticket purchases like phones, lap tops or printers.  Let’s not forget that it may also be time to pay fees for lessons and/or classes for dance, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, art, music (insert your kid’s thing)….the list is endless.  Please don’t ever ask me how much I spend on tennis for my kids.  I will not tell you!

I wish I could offer advice on how to reduce these cyclical costs.  I can’t.  Also, I am not writing this to tell you to use a credit card for these purchases to earn rewards.  I hope you are already doing that!  However, my goal in this post, is to help you get something more than just your standard spending rewards.  If available to you, I want to help you earn an ANNUAL SPEND BONUS!

What do I mean by an annual spend bonus?  Many cards offer annual bonuses if you spend a certain amount of money in either a calendar year or fiscal year, personal to your account.  Personally, I am aiming for two 2016 annual spend bonuses on both mine and Rob’s respective Chase British Airways Visa Signature cards.  I am determined to get free airline tickets to London to attend Wimbledon for my 50th birthday in 2028 (I mean 2018).

These British Airways annual spend bonuses  are not “traditional” ones.  Instead of a rewards bonus, they come in the form of Travel Together tickets.  If you want to learn more about these tickets, you can access the information here on my site.

Alternatively, what follows is an assortment of cards, all of which have some type of “traditional” annual spend bonus.  If you don’t see a card below that you have, it may be wise to review some of the benefits of your current card to determine if an annual spend bonus is available.  On that same note, figure out how much you have spent towards the spend requirement.  Are you close to that amount that will yield an annual spend bonus?  Maybe you are within arm’s reach!  If so, formulate a plan to ensure that you hit the spend!

Here are some of the cards that have annual spend bonuses:

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa

If you can spend $25,000 in a calendar year on your Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa card, you will receive an additional 10,000 United MileagePlus bonus miles that year.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

If you can spend $25,000 in a calendar year on your Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card, you will receive an additional 10,000 United MileagePlus bonus miles that year.

American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card

In any calendar year, if you spend $25,000 or more on the American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card, you will be awarded 10,000 bonus SkyMiles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).  If in that same calendar year you spend $50,000 or more, you will be awarded an additional 10,000 bonus SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs.

Bank Of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard

Earn up to 15,000 additional Flying Club miles every anniversary after qualifying purchases on your Bank Of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard.  You receive 7,500 anniversary Flying Club miles if you spend a minimum of $15,000 in net purchases within the anniversary year.  An additional 7,500 anniversary Flying Club miles is rewarded if you spend $25,000 in net purchases within the anniversary year.

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

A new benefit to the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card is an offer for an Annual Loyalty Bonus.  Now as a card member, you can earn 10,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points at the end of each calendar year in which you spend $1,000 or more on stays within the Hilton Portfolio.

 

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard Earn 5,000 bonus HawaiianMiles when you spend at least $10,000 in purchases within each anniversary year.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Business MasterCard

Hawaiian Airlines Business MasterCard-Earn 20,000 bonus HawaiianMiles on your account anniversary with $50K-$99K in annual spend, or 40,000 bonus HawaiianMiles with $100K or more in annual spend.

I hope that you have an annual spend bonus available to you.  Even more so, I hope that you take advantage of it!  Have a great rest of the summer and an easy and lucrative back to school season. :-)

 

 


Let Your Back To School Shopping Help You Snag An Annual Spend Bonus!

1240254_10151843789853501_1216617990_nAs much as I hate to admit it, the summer is coming to a close and September is almost upon us.  I bet if you have kids, whether from pre-school age through college, there is a little (or a big) bump in your expenses during the late summer or early fall.  Most of these costs relate to heading back to school and resuming normally scheduled activities.

For our children, many of us will be shopping for items such as: school clothes, bigger sneakers, school supplies, and maybe some big ticket purchases like phones, lap tops or printers.  Let’s not forget that it may also be time to pay fees for lessons and/or classes for dance, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, art, music (insert your kid’s thing)….the list is endless.  Please don’t ever ask me how much I spend on tennis for my kids.  I will not tell you!

I wish I could offer advice on how to reduce these cyclical costs.  I can’t.  Also, I am not writing this to tell you to use a credit card for these purchases to earn rewards.  I hope you are already doing that!  However, my goal in this post, is to help you get something more than just your standard spending rewards.  If available to you, I want to help you earn an ANNUAL SPEND BONUS!

What do I mean by an annual spend bonus?  Many cards offer annual bonuses if you spend a certain amount of money in either a calendar year or fiscal year, personal to your account.  Personally, I am aiming for two 2016 annual spend bonuses on both mine and Rob’s respective Chase British Airways Visa Signature cards.  I am determined to get free airline tickets to London to attend Wimbledon for my 50th birthday in 2028 (I mean 2018).

These British Airways annual spend bonuses  are not “traditional” ones.  Instead of a rewards bonus, they come in the form of Travel Together tickets.  If you want to learn more about these tickets, you can access the information here on my site.

Alternatively, what follows is an assortment of cards, all of which have some type of “traditional” annual spend bonus.  If you don’t see a card below that you have, it may be wise to review some of the benefits of your current card to determine if an annual spend bonus is available.  On that same note, figure out how much you have spent towards the spend requirement.  Are you close to that amount that will yield an annual spend bonus?  Maybe you are within arm’s reach!  If so, formulate a plan to ensure that you hit the spend!

Here are some of the cards that have annual spend bonuses:

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa

If you can spend $25,000 in a calendar year on your Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa card, you will receive an additional 10,000 United MileagePlus bonus miles that year.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

If you can spend $25,000 in a calendar year on your Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card, you will receive an additional 10,000 United MileagePlus bonus miles that year.

American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card

In any calendar year, if you spend $25,000 or more on the American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card, you will be awarded 10,000 bonus SkyMiles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).  If in that same calendar year you spend $50,000 or more, you will be awarded an additional 10,000 bonus SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs.

Bank Of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard

Earn up to 15,000 additional Flying Club miles every anniversary after qualifying purchases on your Bank Of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard.  You receive 7,500 anniversary Flying Club miles if you spend a minimum of $15,000 in net purchases within the anniversary year.  An additional 7,500 anniversary Flying Club miles is rewarded if you spend $25,000 in net purchases within the anniversary year.

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

A new benefit to the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card is an offer for an Annual Loyalty Bonus.  Now as a card member, you can earn 10,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points at the end of each calendar year in which you spend $1,000 or more on stays within the Hilton Portfolio.

 

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard Earn 5,000 bonus HawaiianMiles when you spend at least $10,000 in purchases within each anniversary year.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Business MasterCard

Hawaiian Airlines Business MasterCard-Earn 20,000 bonus HawaiianMiles on your account anniversary with $50K-$99K in annual spend, or 40,000 bonus HawaiianMiles with $100K or more in annual spend.

I hope that you have an annual spend bonus available to you.  Even more so, I hope that you take advantage of it!  Have a great rest of the summer and an easy and lucrative back to school season. :-)